Thursday, November 30, 2017

More than 50 years after country banned Beatles, Ringo is on his way to Israel

More than 50 years after government ministers canceled a planned Beatles concert in Israel, Ringo Starr has scheduled two performances in the nation next June.

The Beatles were set to play in Tel Aviv in August 1965, but the show was cancelled and the group banned from the country due to objections from government leaders.

The Beatle ban stemmed from public outrage in Israel over a Cliff Richard performance there the previous year. Adults were dismayed by images of teens dancing and swooning to the British teen idol and a government cultural committee vowed not to let it happen again.

The committee issued a resolution stating if would, "not to allow the request for fear that the performances by the Beatles are liable to have a negative influence on the [country's] youth."

The head of the country's educational committee also stated, ""There is no musical or artistic experience here but a sensual display that arouses feelings of aggression replete with sexual stimuli."

The Jewish Press has a detailed account of the scrapped concert and ban here.

But times have changed. In 2008, the Israeli government formally apologized for the ban in a letter to John Lennon's half-sister Julia Baird, a move that coincided with Paul McCartney's first performance in Israel a few weeks later.

Ringo is set to play June 23 and 24 in Menorah Mivtahim Arena in Tel Aviv. His upcoming tour includes a somewhat revised lineup of his All-Star Band, with Men at Work‘s Colin Hay and 10cc‘s Graham Gouldman joining the band, replacing Todd Rundgren and Mr. Mister‘s Richard Barnes. Returning members include Toto‘s Steve Lukather, ex-Santana member Gregg Rolie, Warren Ham, and Gregg Bissonette.

Vintage John and Yoko press photo

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Ringo's "You're Sixteen" roped into political controversy

Ringo Starr's hit 1973 cover of "You're Sixteen" was referenced in news this week about embattled Alabama Senate nominee Roy Moore, who is accused of sexually harassing multiple women when they were teenagers.

In a TV appearance Monday, Joel Pollack, an editor for the right-wing extremist outlet Breitbart News, told CNN's Chris Cuomo.

“Ringo Starr hit No. 1 on the billboard charts with the song ‘You’re Sixteen, You’re Beautiful and You’re Mine.' And it was a remake of an earlier song. He was 30-something at the time, singing about a 16-year-old. You want to take away Ringo Starr’s achievement?”

Cuomo shot back:

“You can’t be serious. You think that Ringo Starr’s song is supposed to be a nod towards allowing 30-year-old men to prey on teenagers? You don’t believe that, Joel. You’re a parent. You don’t believe that.”

I haven't seen any comments from Ringo, but hopefully this will all boost sales of his excellent Ringo LP, which features his rendition of the Johnny Burnette song.

Vintage Beatles hairbrush

Monday, November 27, 2017

Guardian newspaper salutes Beatles photographer Shahrokh Hatami

Photographer Shahrokh Hatami, whose work included an early photo feature on the Beatles, died last week. Today, the Guardian newspaper pays tribute with a gallery of several photos Hatami shot of the group for Paris Match in 1963.

Vintage Beatles pic

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Feeling Scroogey about the Beatles Christmas Records box set

Gazing at all the Beatles-related stuff in my house, you may be surprised to learn that I'm not a Beatles collector.

Yes, I have all the band's releases in mono and stereo, and all of the U.S. releases. A lot of it I have on both vinyl and CD. And I have "A Hard Day's Night" and "Help!" on DVD and this year's Sgt. Pepper box. And loads of books and even a few Yellow Submarine toys.

But I don't feel compelled to own it all. Especially if I already own it!

I'm skipping, for example, the new Paul McCartney vinyl releases coming out soon. I have this music already. I don't need to buy these new versions just because they appear on the Capitol label rather than on Hear Music and are pressed on color, rather than plain black, vinyl.

I've lived long enough to realize that re-buying records won't bring back the excitement I felt buying them the first time around

Likewise, I'm not sure I'll get the new "limited edition" box set containing the Beatles' fan club Christmas messages.

Don't get me wrong. I welcome an official release of these recordings.

Just like everyone else, I have them on bootlegs, but would love to have them in better-quality sound with a nice booklet detailing their history.

But I'm not excited by the release package Apple has put together, which seems gimmicky and exploitative.

Rather than compiling the messages onto a single CD or vinyl LP, Apple is essentially creating replicas of the original flexi-disks that the Beatles sent out to their fans each holiday season between 1963 and 1970. Instead of flexis, though, the messages appear on vinyl 45s, one for each year. Each is pressed in a different shade of vinyl, with a cover that replicates the original fan club release. And it all comes in a nice box with a booklet.

It's an attractive package, but in my opinion that's mostly what it is: A package. Rather than seven colorful 45s, I'd rather have all this stuff on a single CD.

I know myself. And I know that if I buy this box of 45s, it will just sit on a shelf, looking nice but taking up space and collecting dust. A CD takes ups less room and I'd be more apt to play it occasionally, at least during the Christmas season.

In fact, I question whether some folks who buy this box will open it at all. After all, doing so will instantly devalue it as the collectors item Apple is trying to create.

By stating this is a limited edition, Apple is hinting that this is something that one day will be unavailable and rare. If you don't get it now, you may never have the chance.

But of what real value is it? It's a cardboard box filled with copies of records released in the 1960s. Fun to look at, but not the real deal. Even though I'm not a Beatles collector, I'd love to own an original "butcher" cover, just as a historical artifact. But buying a "butcher" cover printed last week doesn't excite me. I feel similarly about this set.

That said, if people want the box, let them enjoy it. But how about a $15 CD or $25 LP for those of us who don't need the packaging?

People didn't need to buy this summer's Sgt. Pepper box to get the new mix. It was available on CD and vinyl, along with selected outtakes included in the box. And the new mix is now being made available as a single vinyl LP. Options are nice and allow more people to hear the recordings.

I've seen suggestions from some fans/collectors online saying that, despite the $70 price tag, Apple is providing a treat to fans by creating this special box and limiting its release.

I've also seen the suggestion that the high price and exclusivity of the release is a good thing because it means so-called "casual fans" are less likely to buy it under the impression that its a conventional holiday album, with recordings of the Beatles singing Christmas carols. The worry is that these poor sods will get the record, hear the Beatles goofing off, and get annoyed or feel disappointed.

There's something odd and snobby about that attitude. I think that people who aren't obsessed with the Beatles are fully capable of reading some blurbs or reviews and deciding whether this is something for them or not. Surely all the rest of us were able to figure this out on our own, why can't others? "Casual fans" may even stand a better chance of understanding it all, seeing as how their minds are less clouded with Beatles trivia.

So, all that said, I'm left to face the $70 question. Should I buy the box? Put it on my Christmas list? Or wait in hope of the single CD or LP version I prefer?

After all, there's nothing saying that Apple won't put out a replica of the 1970 Beatles Christmas Album, which compiled all the messages onto one LP, next season. The completists will need to grab that one, too.

Beatles "Big Night Out" promo pamphlet

Via Heritage Auctions:

Monday, November 13, 2017

Hear new Paul McCartney song on Charlotte Gainsbourg's "Rest"

NPR is previewing Charlotte Gainsbourg's new LP, Rest, which includes a previously unreleased Paul McCartney song, "Songbird in a Cage."

Paul also plays guitar, bass and piano on the track.

You can listen to the LP here. It will be out this Friday and is available for order from Amazon here.

Ringo asks fans for help with "Give More Love" video

Ringo is asking fans to share photos and videos to include in a video for the title track of his new LP, Give More Love.


Sometimes this world can be a difficult place, and it's hard to know what we can do. We're celebrating people who GIVE MORE LOVE every day, and want YOU to be a part of it. Share your photos or short video depicting peace, love, and kindness using the hashtag #GiveMoreLoveContest. 

More information here.


Vintage Beatles wallet

Via Heritage Auctions:

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Elbow covers the Beatles' "Golden Slumbers" for John Lewis Christmas ad

It's a holiday tradition in England for the John Lewis department store to use a song to highlight the advent of the shopping season. This year, it's a cover of "Golden Slumbers" by Elbow, and it's gaining in popularity.

According to the Newburgh Gazette:

The advert tells the story of Joe, who is frightened of the monster, Moz, that lives under his bed. 

... Moz is a giant furry monster who comes out every night to play with his pal Joe. Moz eventually realises that it is time for him to leave Joe to grow up and the lovable monster is shown, under the bed, waving forlornly at his friend, eyes filled with tears. 

The woman who gave McCartney "Martha"

The Daily Mail has an interview with dog breeder Ann Davis, who provided Paul McCartney with his  beloved sheepdog, Martha, subject of the song "Martha My Dear" from the 1968 "White Album."

It turns out, according to Davis, that "Martha" wasn't the dog's original name, as Davis discovered when Paul came back to her with the dog to watch while he was away.

"Paul being Paul had decided to call the dog 'Knickers.'"

The name is thought to have been coined after the pup had an accident on Sir Paul’s lap. She added: "I told him that if I was going to look after her, I wasn’t standing at the back door shouting out 'Knickers!' – so I called her Nicky.

According to the article, Knickers was re-named Martha at Jane Asher's behest.

Vintage Beatles sleeveless dress

Via Heritage Auctions:

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Check out the Sgt. Pepper jukebox - pics and video

The British company Sound Leisure is producing an official Sgt. Pepper jukebox and it looks pretty spiffy. You can order one for a mere £8995 (about $11,830, American).


The unique rotating vinyl mechanism holds 70 45rpm records (not included) with 140 selection options the jukebox can play both A & B sides. The machine features a revolving title rack to select favourite records at the touch of a button. The Label Magic software subscription, included for 12 months with the jukebox purchase, enables personalised creation of record title labels when records are changed in the machine. Music selections are made directly from the button bank on the machine or via the infra-red remote control that also controls the volume, shuffle play and record reject.

The Sgt. Pepper's Vinyl Jukebox incorporates a Bluetooth ™ receiver with the ability to stream digital music from a compatible device. It also features auxiliary outputs, input and additional speaker connections. A splendid quality sound is guaranteed for all from needle to ear via the Sound Leisure D4 amplifier and five way in built speaker system.

Featuring authentic Sgt. Pepper's styling from cabinet to lettering and solid aluminium chromed castings, this jukebox is truly unique.

All machines are hand built to the highest standard by Sound Leisure's craftsmen and women and are individually numbered.

New McCartney song appears on Charlotte Gainsbourg LP out next week

“Songbird In A Cage," a previously unreleased song by Paul McCartney is among the tracks featured on singer Charlotte Gainsbourg's new album, Rest, which is out next week. You can order it from Amazon now.

Gainsbourg, daughter of French songwriter/provocateur Serge Gainsbourg and British actress/singer Jane Birkin, asked Paul to write her a song several years ago but has waited until now to release "Songbird in a Cage."

“I asked him, and he sent this song. It was so generous and I didn’t even had an album to put it on,” she said.

Vintage Beatles Yellow Submarine Jumbo Stick-Ons

Via Heritage Auctions.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Artifact: "Rocky Racoon" songwriting agreement signed by John Lennon

Via Heritage Auctions:

Beatles - Publishing Agreement Between MacLen (Music) Limited and Northern Songs Limited for "Rocky Raccoon" Signed by John Lennon and Neil Aspinall (UK, October 15, 1968). One page printed on the front and back, 8" x 13", completed in typescript (carbon), and signed at the close: "Neil Aspinall" in black ballpoint (for Maclen Music) and "John Lennon" in bold black felt tip. "Principal Publishing Agreement" between parties agreeing that the publishers will pay royalties as listed to Maclen for the full period of copyright. "Rocky Raccoon" was on the The Beatles ("The White Album"), released a month after this agreement.